04 AUG 2011

Jack Lopresti MP welcomes Broadband Announcement

South Gloucestershire Council has announced plans to give all residents and businesses access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband.

The private sector broadband market will be providing superfast broadband to around two-thirds of communities over the next few years. However some homes and businesses in areas in the remaining third are at risk of being left behind.

To solve the problem the government has set up a scheme to provide £530m of public sector funds to improve the broadband provision in these mostly rural communities. To ensure that South Gloucestershire is able to benefit from the scheme, the Council is working with BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK, who are responsible for allocating and distributing the £530m of public sector funding) to develop a local broadband plan setting out how those homes and businesses in the final third will benefit from improved broadband provision.

The local authority is in the third phase of the BDUK national programme and expects to hear about our funding allocation later in the summer. The Council will then need to develop and submit the local broadband plan to BDUK for approval, provide 1:1 match funding and procure a private sector partner to contribute the rest of the funding required.

Jack said:

"I am pleased that the council has announced its intentions in regard to the implementation of fast and reliable broadband for the whole of the local area. However this is not an excuse for the telecommunications companies to sit back and expect the tax payer to fund the upgrade of their exchanges. We need the private sector to engage and contribute to this process in a partnership with the local authority and customers. Last year the community broadband campaign collected over 1,000 signatures to demonstrate demand for the improvement to the Almondsbury exchange alone. Whilst I appreciate that there are local infrastructure issues it's difficult to see why the private sector aren't utilising this demand better."

BDUK are setting up a national procurement framework for councils to use to procure the required broadband infrastructure from broadband providers. It is hoped that this framework will be in place next summer.

It is expected that the private sector roll out will be completed by 2015, with the BDUK work to follow.

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